These amazing berries are on anyone's list of super foods. Recent research shows that they're brain food -- feeding blueberries to rats actually slows their age-related mental decline. Blueberries contain pterostilbene, a plant compound recently shown to have cholesterol-lowering properties. Their ORAC value (antioxidant rating) is the highest of any fruit. And blueberries are rich in fiber. Tip: Try them frozen. They taste like sherbet!
Among the super foods of the world, guava is a sleeper. With a taste that's been described as "part strawberry and part pear," one low-calorie cup of this vitamin rich fruit contains a whopping eight grams of fiber. And in one widely used test of antioxidant power, guava scored only second to blueberries, right behind kale. Guava also contains cancer-fighting lycopene.
Kale is a member of the brassica family -- vegetable royalty that boasts cabbage and broccoli among its relatives. It's rich in potent cancer-fighting substances called indoles, and loaded with bone-building vitamin K. Kale has the highest antioxidant rating of any vegetable and is ridiculously low in calories. Try it tossed with olive oil, a few dried cranberries and some pine nuts.
The best kept secret in the world when it comes to health foods and the secret weapon of travelers looking for a cheap, portable, easily available source of protein. Sardines are rich in omega-3 fats, and one of the least contaminated of any seafood since they rank so low on the food chain. Eat them out of the can or throw them on some salad.
The juicy red or green apple's reputation for keeping you out of the doctor's office is well deserved. Loaded with pectin (an important fiber), apples are one of the best sources of boron, a little known nutrient that helps support strong and healthy bones. An apple with a glass of water is a great natural appetite suppressant. Highest antioxidant value: Red Delicious.
This superb oil has been long neglected as a healthy oil because it contains saturated fat. But not to worry: the saturated fat in coconut is a very healthy kind called MCT (medium chain triglyecerides) which is easily burned by the body for energy. Coconut oil also contains lauric acid, a natural anti-viral and anti-microbal. And today's excellent virgin coconut oil -- unlike the inferior products of a few decades ago -- doesn't contain trans fats.
A superstar beverage if there ever was one, green tea helps with weight loss and helps fight against cancer. It contains EGCG, a catechin (plant compound) which stimulates metabolism and has anti-cancer properties to boot. Green tea also contains theanine, a natural relaxant which helps explain why the caffeine in green tea doesn't make you nearly as jittery as coffee.
Flaxseed oil is one of the only plant sources of omega-3 fats, but the flaxseeds themselves provide the added benefit of fiber along with omega-3. Flaxseeds can be thrown on salads, tossed into smoothies, or sprinkled on vegetables. They also contain lignans, a group of plant nutrients that have been studied by the National Cancer Institute for their cancer preventive properties.